Yeah, that happened. And it was fun. So much fun, in fact, that I decided to do it again for 2014.
Let's back up the bus a second here. I chose spectating over racing? Well... sort of. I didn't so much choose spectating as it chose me. Let's just say the folks over at "We Take TC 10 Mile Race Applications Central" made me...
But like my friends said - maybe the organizers valued me more as a spectator?! (Hey, to quote my uncle: "It's my dream, I'll make it as big as I want it to be." Let's just hope in the process that my head doesn't get too big.)
Anyway, in the week leading up to race day, my running buddy from the prior weekend and I were starting to scheme. What should we do this year? What should we wear? What should we hand out?
When I received this photo via text the Thursday night before gun time, I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head.
When the text arrived, I said to my husband: "I think I'm a bad influence on the people at the community center."
He replied, laughing and shaking his head too: "You're a bad influence on everybody."
And just to drive a point home, seconds later I received a text from another friend. Also from the community center. Also dressed to the nines in a ridiculous outfit. The outfit was something she plans to run in for a future race, and she wanted to show off to me.
Can I just ask - how have I become a costume consultant?
Not that I'm complaining.
On to race day.
Despite having 80 degree weather just days prior, race day for the Twin Cities Marathon and 10 Mile was ridiculously cold. Temps overnight had dropped into the 40s ... or maybe even 30s. Luckily, the rain from the previous few days cleared, so the day was fairly dry despite being overcast.
But - simply stated, we were glad to be wearing furry costumes:
Which unfortunately still wasn't enough to keep me warm. Thank goodness I snagged a free pair of socks at the Fitsok spectator station.
Double layer socks FTW.
The gun for the 10 mile race was scheduled to fire at 7am. As such, my goal was to be at mile 8 (marathon mile 24) before 7:30. Why? Well, although I didn't personally know anyone running that elite of a pace, I was hoping to catch this blogger as he smoked by.
Lucky for me, we got there in plenty of time, and I got in a good cheer as he passed ... in the outfit he said he wasn't going to wear. Way to go, Speedo. Good thing I'm a dedicated blog reader and recognized those shorts from a mile away!! ;-)
Since that guy is pretty much an elite runner (don't agree with me? Check out the fact that he won the Loony Challenge this year), there wasn't a whole lot happenin' for me after he went by. As I learned last year, most people running sub 8 minute miles are extremely focused in finishing the race. So, the group of us cheering for racers just shook our cowbells and yelled in support of the runners as they passed.
Eventually the "fun" runners started coming through, so I held up my "Does this unicorn horn make my butt look big?" sign, and Cookie Monster held up "C is for Chafing". We got a lot of smiles, some good reactions, and I got mostly no answers. Mostly. I did have one "a little bit", and one "yes" which was then corrected to "no". HA!
Somewhere in the 10-12 minute/mile runners, we were asked an amazing question: "Hey Cookie Monster, where are your cookies?!" WHAT!! Good thing we came prepared! Cookie Monster opened her first box of cookies, and I pulled out my mini bags of skittles. After that, snacks were flying out of our hands and into runner's bellies as fast as they could go.
The cookies were such a hit, in fact, that the "officials" with microphones just a few feet down the road came walking our way asking "Where the heck are all these cookies coming from?!" HA!
Pretty soon, the stream of runners turned into a trickle. And then barely a dribble. The last few "drops" passed through while we messed around.
Cookie Monster was productive during this time:
I was ... not so much:
The gun time for the Marathon was scheduled to fire a 8am, so this predictable lull was not a surprise. I WAS surprised, however, that the lull was hardly pronounced. In fact, before the last of the 10 milers came through, some of the first wheelers for the marathon were starting to fly by.
*Photo from earlier in the course, not my cheer station
Aside from that action, it was still fairly quiet. And I tried to just stay patient, which was hard to do since I knew someone running an elite pace in the marathon. I mean, even when the wheelers cruised through (well ahead of the lead marathon runner), I was immediately on the lookout for this guy, AKA Super Dave.
Not long after the majority of wheelers cruised by, I saw a spectacular sight:
That was it! The lead runner had officially screamed by:
Yep! So fast, I could hardly get a photo in!
And just to prove how fast - his finishing time: 2:13:32. Or roughly a 5:05 per mile pace for 26+ miles. You know, no big deal. LOL!
The party had officially started. Suddenly, the streets started filling with spectators, and the roar of the crowd got louder and louder as each elite runner came through. And got even louder yet as the first women runners came through.
Not long into the excitement, Super Dave was nearing our station.
*Photo from earlier in the course, not my cheer station
And then, he was there. And it was awesome! Before we knew it, we heard the good news, too. He finished in 2:48:21. A 4 minute PR over his last race in Boston, and an amazing pace of 6:26/mile. Not to mention, 6th place in his age group. Yes, I said SIXTH! Out of 465 males registered. From a pool that attracts runners world wide. Just awesome.
Back where we were at mile 24, the runners were starting to turn from a trickle into a flood. Which unfortunately also meant the crowd was starting to expand more and more. At first, the energy was kind of fun. But eventually it just got ... a little too crowded for my taste.
I mean, I get that people are excited to see someone they know run. But, a tip for you first time spectators:
(1) Do not step over the line that is supposed to separate runners from spectators.
(2) Do not RUN INTO the runner's area to hug, cheer for, or run with your friend.
(3) See #2 above, don't do that AND BLOCK THE PATH FOR OTHER RUNNERS SURROUNDING THE PERSON YOU ARE CHEERING FOR.
I wouldn't have even minded the crowd if they had just given others with signs and what not space. But my whole group had been crowded out, and we were there to cheer everyone. A little annoying when you want to put a smile on every runner's face, and someone else is blocking you out with a sign that says "Go specific runner xyz."
Frustrated, I put my sign down and took a much needed bathroom break. Did I mention how cold it was? Yeah, each draft of wind made my need to go exponentially worse.
The good news was that eventually after my bathroom break, the most annoying spectators left the field, and we were able to regain some of our purchase on the area we were originally occupying. Plus, the "fun" runners were just starting to come through. So, no harm, no foul.
Unfortunately, at this point in the race, Cooke Monster had to leave. BOO! Feeling alone, up went the FREE FUEL sign, and out came the first line of defense: twinkies.
Just as I saw last year, the range of reactions to the twinkies was pretty amusing. Some yearned for one but declined. Some retched at the mere suggestion. But the best runners on course, at least in my opinion, ALL STOPPED BY AND PARTOOK.
Yes indeedy. I handed out about 20 twinkies to Marathon runners. Most of them running a 4-5 hour pace. Impressive.
Since the weather was better this year, and the annoying spectators became less and less, a handful of us at our cheer spot hung on for dear life.
We celebrated every racer that went by.
But finally, just before 2pm, we decided to thrown in the towel. Having been there since about 7am, we were exhausted and ready for a hot lunch.
So, although I would have loved to stay until the bitter end ... we did not. But my heart was there in spirit for every runner still on course.
On the ride home, while others chatted and relived the fun of the race, I simply relished in the heat of the car. Well, and checked in on my phone. With 20+ notifications and handfuls of texts, I was a little overwhelmed.
One of the many things in my news feed was this photo:
Yes, I'm sad to admit I missed a chance to race with my nephew in order to support TC again this year. But how often can you say you knew someone who was officially racing in the "professional" corral at a marathon? Besides, my nephew didn't mind.
One of the other flags in my feed was a note that people at the finish line / on the train back to the parking area were talking about "the unicorn at mile 8/24". AMAZEBALLS!
I guess the Unicobb has hit celebrity status?!
Only time will tell...